Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pole Position


When I was a kid, we had a roller rink in the nearby town (I grew up in a tiny little town, but that’s a post for another time). As a kid, I loved the roller rink, who wouldn’t? My absolute favorite part was playing Pole Position.
So there I was at the rink, with skates that probably weighed half as much as I did, and I would put my quarter in—remember when it only cost a quarter to play a video game?—and stuff my foot onto the pedal. Now, my ankle strength wasn’t much to crow over in those days, and I had a hard time lifting my feet in the skates, let alone controlling a pedal. When I played pole position, I had to get my skate up and over the pedal, and then it would fall down. I know that most people who played Pole Position also came from the pedal-to-the-metal school of gaming, but with me, I had no choice. I couldn’t lift—an actual racing term—if my poor little video game character’s life depended on it. And it did. A lot. The death of my little race car didn’t deter me from playing again, and again, and again. I just couldn’t stop. In fact, the only thing that ever stopped me was a lack of quarters or the hokey pokey (my other favorite part of the roller rink).
I guess that’s where I’m coming from on a lot of things. I have two modes: ten pound skate holding down the gas pedal, or no more quarters to play with. This past week, I’ve been wandering around without any quarters in my pocket, but I think I’ve found a change machine.
Now my only concern is which project do I feed the quarters to? I have this one project that I’ve got something like another 15-20,000 words to finish a first draft of a novel that I interrupted to do my big edit and polishing of my current query bait, but I’m worried I might be wasting time with that project. You see, it’s a sequel. Worse, it’s a sequel to a story that hasn’t sold or gathered much more than a nibble because, well, let’s face it: there are a lot of faerie starring stories clogging the shelves at book stores. And even worse, it’s not the first sequel, it’s the second. The first sequel was so easy to write that I just had to—a sure sign it has major issues and the dopamine levels were still high from the first draft of the first novel.
But I also feel like, if I abandon it for another better/newer/shinier/project I’ll just feel like I’ve abandoned one of my children. The whole reason I was willing to dive right into revision land was because the second sequel is hard. It’s hard to change people and tell a compelling story where the rules were set down two books ago, and I still have to play by them (really, play by them or die).
So, finish the good-for-me project, or run singing into the wildflower covered hills of a shiny/new/novel? Either way, I need to choose quickly 'cause I’ve got a pocket full of quarters.

1 comment:

  1. Don't abandon it, but don't put all of your quarters into it, either. Spend some, save some. In other words, write a sloppy synopsis and create the file, and as ideas come to you, add them to that file. That way the ideas are all there when you need them (and if you sell the first book you will probably need it so your editor can see where your'e going with book two).

    And then move on to something else.

    This will give you some wiggle room when it comes to characters and rules and plot, but will also give you the satisfaction of known the good ideas aren't going to waste. It also allows for things like perspective and foreshadowing, when you're looking at plot points instead of chapters, etc.

    I have a rule that I can play half as much as I work. So I set a goal of an hour or two for the projects I knew I really need to finish now, and then give myself half that to do whatever silly project I want, whether it amounts to anything or not. Maybe that will help?

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